News in 2020

  • Nurse-led telephone management could help support patients with chlamydia and gonorrhoea diagnosed in primary care 21 December 2020 Nurse-led telephone management of patients with chlamydia and gonorrhoea could provide a better service for patients and reduce GP workloads, according to a study by researchers at the University of Bristol and NIHR ARC West published in BMC Family Practice.
  • Vaccines must prevent infection, disease progression and transmission – in every country - to truly bring COVID-19 under control 16 December 2020 An editorial co-authored by a member of the UK's influential SAGE committee that advises the UK Government on COVID-19, and published in Anaesthesia (a journal of the Association of Anaesthetists) says that in order for the global COVID-19 vaccination program to be successful, the available vaccines must be able to do all three of: prevent infection becoming established in an individual, prevent disease progression and prevent onward transmission.
  • Majority of University of Bristol students are complying with government COVID-19 guidelines 16 December 2020 The majority of University of Bristol students are complying with government COVID-19 guidelines and are self-isolating when receiving a positive test, indicates a study that has investigated student social contact patterns and behaviours. The research led by scientists at the University of Bristol is published on the pre-print server medRxiv.
  • Analysis finds four repurposed antiviral drugs have little or no effect on patients hospitalised for COVID-19 7 December 2020 Repurposed antiviral drugs - remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir and interferon - to treat COVID-19 appear to have little or no effect on patients hospitalised for the disease, in terms of overall mortality, initiation of ventilation and duration of hospital stay. The interim findings from the WHO Solidarity trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), followed 11,266 adults at 405 hospitals in 30 countries.
  • The impact of COVID-19 on children in Africa: a thorn in the flesh 4 December 2020 The COVID-19 outbreak is like a double-edged sword to a poor African child, piercing through bone and marrow. Even before the pandemic, children in sub-Saharan Africa were disproportionately affected by poverty.
  • Meningococcus B vaccine prevents disease with 79 per cent effectiveness in under 18s 1 December 2020 Meningococcus group B, the most prevalent strain of meningococcal infection, is prevented with 79 per cent effectiveness in children and young adults inoculated with the 4CMenB vaccine, also known as Bexsero, according to a new collaborative study from researchers in Portugal and the UK and led by the University of Bristol which evaluated the vaccine’s performance in a real-world setting. The findings are published today [1 December] in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
  • Spread Germ Defence, not the virus! 25 November 2020 With Covid-19 infections still high and people preparing for Christmas gatherings, it is vitally important to try to reduce the spread of infection in people's homes as this is where infections are now most likely to be transmitted. Research suggests people who follow the advice from Germ Defence are less likely to catch flu or other viruses and less likely to pass it on to members of their household.
  • Seventeen Bristol academics named in Highly Cited Researchers 2020 list 23 November 2020 The Highly Cited Researchers 2020 list recognises 17 University of Bristol researchers reaching the highest sphere of influence in research.
  • Bristol secures £45M to advance gene therapy treatment of chronic kidney diseases 19 November 2020 The University of Bristol has secured a £45million deal to advance its groundbreaking gene therapy technology for chronic kidney diseases. The commitment, made by healthcare company Syncona Ltd to Bristol spin-out Purespring Therapeutics, aims to address a global unmet need for renal conditions in one of the largest single investments made to a new UK university biotech company.
  • Point-of-care testing for respiratory infections during and after COVID-19 17 November 2020 Last winter, our team led the first exploratory investigation of the use of a multiviral point-of-care test using upper respiratory tract swabs in UK primary care. We found testing was acceptable to patients and improved clinician diagnostic certainty. However, clinicians were concerned about the absence of randomised trial evidence of effectiveness.
  • Interactive virtual reality emerges as a new tool for drug design against COVID-19 16 November 2020 Bristol scientists have demonstrated a new virtual reality [VR] technique which should help in developing drugs against the SARS-CoV-2 virus – and enable researchers to share models and collaborate in new ways. The innovative tool, created by University of Bristol researchers, and published in the Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling, will help scientists around the world identify anti-viral drug leads more rapidly.
  • Accuracy of rapid covid test may be lower than previously suggested 16 November 2020 The accuracy of a rapid finger-prick antibody test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19 infection, may be considerably lower than previously suggested, finds a study led by scientists from Public Health England and the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge and Warwick published in The BMJ.
  • Bristol study completes COVID-19 antibody testing 10 November 2020 Children of the 90s, a health study based at the University of Bristol, has today [10 November] published results from a study testing almost 5,000 participants for COVID-19 antibodies. The results found 4.3 per cent reported a positive result, of which a quarter were asymptomatic and did not report any symptoms in previous questionnaires.
  • New type of antivenom to reduce 100,000 fatalities each year from venomous snake bites being developed by Bristol scientists 6 November 2020 A new approach of treating life-threatening snake bites responsible for around 100,000 deaths globally each year is being pioneered by an international research consortium led by University of Bristol scientists. The EU-funded ADDovenom study, involving teams in the UK, France, Belgium and Portugal, set out to create a new type of antivenom treatment to neutralise and eliminate venom toxins from the bloodstream with more efficacy, safety and affordability than what is available today.
  • University of Bristol joins UK-wide calls for government to support post-Covid recovery plans 2 November 2020 The University of Bristol is among a UK-wide cohort of cities and their universities that is calling on the government to work towards a radical new vision to help bring social and economic prosperity post-Covid.
  • Research to use artificial intelligence to identify sick livestock 2 November 2020 The welfare of livestock could be improved thanks to a new research project that will use novel artificial intelligence methods combined with behavioural analytics to provide rapid and reliable insights to animal health for farmers across the UK. The research and commercial feasibility program, co-funded by Innovate UK, the UK's innovation agency, will be led by the Quant Foundry (QF) in collaboration with the University of Bristol Vet School and Agri-EPI Centre.
  • Oxford COVID-19 vaccine follows its programmed genetic instructions, independent analysis finds 27 October 2020 The AstraZeneca Oxford COVID-19 vaccine now undergoing Phase III clinical trials, has already undergone rigorous testing to ensure the highest standards of quality and safety. David’s team at has used recently developed techniques to further validate that the vaccine accurately follows the genetic instructions programmed into it by the Oxford team. This novel analysis provides even greater clarity and detail about how the vaccine successfully provokes a strong immune response.
  • What’s the STORY of infectious diseases in the UK? 26 October 2020 A study looking at how children's immune systems respond to COVID-19, and to vaccines for other infectious diseases, is asking children under the age of 20 who live in the Bristol area to consider taking part. The research project is being run by the Bristol Children’s Vaccine Centre (BCVC) at Bristol Medical School, and the Oxford Vaccine Group which is part of the University of Oxford.
  • Evidence that new consent procedures for HPV vaccine can sometimes improve uptake 22 October 2020 An evaluation of new procedures for getting parents’ or young people’s consent to the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination has found some evidence of improved uptake of the vaccine but results were mixed. The evaluation, led by researchers at the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Behavioural Science and Evaluation at the University of Bristol, concluded that increasing uptake in low-uptake populations remains a challenge and there are unresolved issues in relation to self-consent.
  • Neuropilin-1 drives SARS-CoV-2 infectivity, finds breakthrough study 20 October 2020 In a major breakthrough an international team of scientists, led by the University of Bristol, has potentially identified what makes SARS-CoV-2 highly infectious and able to spread rapidly in human cells. The findings, published in Science today [20 October] describe how the virus’s ability to infect human cells can be reduced by inhibitors that block a newly discovered interaction between virus and host, demonstrating a potential anti-viral treatment.
  • New emergency care research hub for Bristol launched 12 October 2020 The University of Bristol and UWE Bristol have joined forces with health care partners in the city to set up a collaborative research hub to improve the delivery of emergency care in Bristol and the surrounding area. The new hub, Research in Emergency Care, Avon Collaborative Hub (REACH), was launched today [Friday 9 October].
  • Research suggests significantly less risk of COVID-19 transmission from anaesthesia procedures 7 October 2020 Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been much debate about the danger to hospital staff from anaesthetic procedures. Concerns include that placing a tube in the patient's airway (intubation) before surgery or removing it at the end (extubation) may produce a fine mist of small particles (called aerosols) and spread the COVID-19 virus to nearby staff.
  • Bristol part of new £4 million FDA study to advance understanding of severe coronavirus infection 7 October 2020 Bristol is part of a major new international project to improve our understanding of severe coronavirus infection in humans. The study, funded by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), will analyse samples from humans and animals to create profiles of various coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. The results will help inform the development of new treatments and vaccines to tackle coronavirus infections.
  • Discovery of a druggable pocket in the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein could stop virus in its tracks 22 September 2020 A druggable pocket in the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein that could be used to stop the virus from infecting human cells has been discovered by an international team of scientists led by the University of Bristol. The researchers say their findings, published today [21 September] in the journal Science, are a potential 'game changer' in defeating the current pandemic and add that small molecule anti-viral drugs developed to target the pocket they discovered could help eliminate COVID-19.
  • Stopping the spread of coronavirus in universities 15 September 2020 As universities prepare to welcome students back, infectious disease modelling experts at the University of Bristol have conducted a rapid review and developed a new epidemic model which contributed to evidence considered by SAGE to assess the effectiveness of different interventions that could stop the spread of Sars-CoV-2 in a university setting. The findings, published on the preprint server medRxiv, provides the sector with recommendations to help reduce the risk for students, staff and the wider community.
  • Study to identify transmission risk of COVID-19 aerosols during medical procedures 14 September 2020 Many operations, due to the potential risk of COVID-19 aerosols being generated, have been delayed or are being performed with additional personal protective equipment (PPE), which has greatly reduced NHS services. A new National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)-funded study will identify which medical procedures are truly aerosol generating and whether the virus remains viable in the aerosol produced. The findings will be crucial in providing guidance about the safe reopening of essential NHS services.
  • How can we get pupils and staff back-to-school safely during COVID-19? 11 September 2020 Ensuring pupils and staff stay safe when they return to school this autumn is a major challenge because there is very little scientific evidence on the incidence and transmission of COVID-19 within schools. A ground-breaking research project will test whether 5,000 staff and pupils have active or past COVID-19 infection, develop systems to help schools prevent and cope with an outbreak and assess strategies to support the mental wellbeing of the school community now and moving forward.
  • Genetic study of proteins is a breakthrough in drug development for complex diseases 9 September 2020 An innovative genetic study of blood protein levels, led by researchers in the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit (MRC-IEU) at the University of Bristol, has demonstrated how genetic data can be used to support drug target prioritisation by identifying the causal effects of proteins on diseases.
  • Robotic muscles could turn back body clock by 2050 4 September 2020 Loss of strength and muscle wastage is currently an unavoidable part of getting older and has a significant impact on health and quality of life.
  • Analysis of seven trials finds that corticosteroids reduce risk of death by 20 per cent in critically ill COVID-19 patients 3 September 2020 Corticosteroids reduce the risk of death among critically ill COVID-19 patients by 20 per cent, an analysis of seven trials published today [2 September] in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has found. The results of three of the trials included in the meta-analysis are also published in JAMA today.
  • Handgrip strength shown to identify people at high risk of type 2 diabetes 2 September 2020 A simple test such as the strength of your handgrip could be used as a quick, low-cost screening tool to help healthcare professionals identify patients at risk of type 2 diabetes. In new research, scientists at the universities of Bristol and Eastern Finland measured the muscular handgrip strength of 776 men and women without a history of diabetes over a 20-year period and demonstrated that the risk of type 2 diabetes was reduced by around 50 per cent for every unit increase in handgrip strength value. The findings are published today in Annals of Medicine.
  • Three quarters of patients report long-term effects of coronavius 24 August 2020 Three quarters of a group of patients who received care for coronavirus at Bristol's Southmead Hospital were still suffering ongoing symptoms three months later, a study published on the pre-print server medRxi has found.
  • Singing is no more risky than talking finds new COVID-19 study 20 August 2020 The performing arts has been badly affected during the coronavirus pandemic with live musical performances cancelled for many months because singing was identified as a potential "higher risk" activity. New collaborative research has shown that singing does not produce very substantially more respiratory particles than when speaking at a similar volume. The findings, published on the pre-print server ChemRxiv, are crucial in providing COVID-19 guidance for live musical performances and the safe distancing of performers and audience.
  • South Africa research team to establish ‘hub’ for discovery of new antibiotics 13 August 2020 An international research collaboration, which includes the University of Bristol, has received funding to discover and accelerate the development of new antibiotics.
  • EBI-funded project produces explanatory materials on COVID-related changes to health law and guidance across the UK 13 August 2020 Professor John Coggon (Centre for Health, Law, and Society, University of Bristol Law School), in collaboration with the UK Faculty of Public Health, PolicyBristol and colleagues in Law Schools at Cardiff University, the University of Edinburgh, and Queen’s University Belfast, is leading an Elizabeth Blackwell Institute-funded project to track and analyse COVID-19 related developments in law and policy as these apply to health professionals and the contexts in which they work.
  • The genetic basis of bats’ superpowers revealed 3 August 2020 For the first time, the raw genetic material that codes for bats’ unique adaptations and superpowers such as the ability to fly, to use sound to move effortlessly in complete darkness, to survive and tolerate deadly diseases, to resist ageing and cancer - has been fully revealed by an international research team including scientists at Bristol. The findings are published in Nature.
  • Top 10 priorities for advanced heart failure research published 16 July 2020 Patients with advanced heart failure and their carers have collaborated with clinicians and researchers to identify a top 10 list of questions for advanced heart failure research. The project was led by researchers at the University of Bristol’s Centre for Academic Primary Care. Details of the project and the priority questions have been published in the journal Open Heart today [30 June].
  • Collecting rapid COVID-19 intelligence to improve primary care response (RAPCI) 16 July 2020 The COVID-19 pandemic has required GP practices to rapidly change the way they deliver consultations, for example by ensuring physical distancing.
  • People with learning disabilities continue to die prematurely, new report shows 16 July 2020 People with learning disabilities in England continue to die prematurely and from treatable causes of death, the latest annual report from the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review (LeDeR) programme shows.
  • Overall COVID-19 intensive care mortality has fallen by a third 16 July 2020 A systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies from three continents shows overall mortality of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units (ICUs) has fallen from almost 60 per cent at the end of March to 42 per cent at the end of May — a relative decrease of one third since the start of the pandemic.
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